Steel is the most widely used material in engineering for its cost/performance ratio and coatings are routinely applied on its surface to further improve its properties. Diamond coated steel parts are an option for many demanding industrial applications through prolonging the lifetime of steel parts, enhancement of tool performance as well as the reduction of wear rates. Direct deposition of diamond on steel using conventional chemical vapour deposition (CVD) processes is known to give poor results due to the preferential formation of amorphous carbon on iron, nickel and other elements as well as stresses induced from the significant difference in the thermal expansion coefficients of those materials. This article reports a novel approach of deposition of nanocrystalline diamond coatings on high-speed steel (M42) substrates using a multi-structured molybdenum (Mo) - tungsten (W) interlayer to form steel/Mo/Mo-W/W/diamond sandwich structures which overcome the adhesion problem related to direct magnetron sputtering deposition of pure tungsten. Surface, interface and tribology properties were evaluated to understand the role of such an interlayer structure. The multi-structured Mo-W interlayer has been proven to improve the adhesion between diamond films and steel substrates by acting as an effective diffusion barrier during the CVD diamond deposition.
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